Saturday, July 30, 2016

Laudato Si: Sunday Reflection #49... Grand Finale, part 1 of 2

Gold Stream Falls, one of my favourite natural places
on our common home
We've reached the end of Pope Francis' letter to the world, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. As you know, I think it's a hugely important document -- in the year since it was published, it's been feeling like the world is really starting to pay attention to the problems human beings have created for our planet and its inhabitants. I was hoping that Christianity as a whole would grab onto it and start talking about it every Sunday, but that hasn't come to pass, at least not that I know of. I haven't even heard a homily about it in my own church, and so far, all that's been underlined in our parish bulletin is the idea that we should remember to pray before and after meals. That's a good idea, yes, but...

There's so much more to Laudato Si, and so many possible lessons and practices we can take from what it says. It reminds us that we are just one small but powerful part of creation, and that we can do much better when it comes to protecting our environment and caring for the marginalized. It notes the many challenges our earth is facing and calls us to work together toward potential solutions.  It challenges us to reconsider the consumptive lifestyles we are living in favour of a deeper, more satisfying simplicity. Everything (in creation, including us) is connected, everything is related, everything is interrelated/interconnected is its oft repeated refrain that needs to be considered with every choice we make, every day of our lives.

For my own summary, I choose to underline some of the ideas for helping our sister, Mother Earth, which came to me from out of our weekly readings of the encyclical:
  • Pray "for our good and the good of all creation" every Sunday Mass during the Preparation of the Gifts.
  • Consider how we are using (or abusing) the soil, water, air, natural resources and lives of other creatures with whom we share our planet.
  • Ask: "what is one small thing I can do to make a positive difference for the earth's inhabitants today?"
  • Undertake a personal garbage audit and determine how to waste less.
  • Use less energy through alternate forms of transportation (walk, bike, take transit, carpool, buy local foods).
  • Appreciate water and consider how we can protect and conserve it. Carry refillable drinking bottles.
  • Spend some time outdoors, appreciating the natural life where we live.
  • Ask: Is this really the quality of life we want? How do we want our society to be? What must we change? How do we go about changing it?
  • Drop the complacency of indifference and choose to care about all our human and non-human brothers and sisters with us in the web of creation. Support a just cause, or more than one.
  • Consider all that we take for granted, and appreciate it more. Share it more.
  • Practice gratitude by using things wisely.
  • Ask: where is there a "disordered use of things" in my life? How can I change my life to improve care for all God's creatures?
  • Be a sign, a role model, an example of doing the just thing -- no matter who is watching (and even if no one is).
  • Let local, national and world leaders know that we want positive, just changes for the sake of our planet's future generations. Speak out for our environment and all its inhabitants. Become an activist in some small (or larger) way.
  • Note the places where God's action and goodness are present in creation and in life.
  • Give some thought to the needs of creation in its entirety, and remember that our planet's life isn't just about human beings.
  • Own less. Travel less. Eat simply. Share. Live in sufficiency, not excess. Appreciate everything.
  • Consider: How would Jesus live in our present era -- and change our lives to match his.
  • Practice spirituality (connecting with God) and self-restraint.
  • Ask: Is technology serving its rightful purpose in our lives, or distracting us from what's really important?
  • Slow down to appropriate technology's "positive and sustainable progress that has been made, but also to recover the values and great goals" that have gotten lost along the way.
  • Ask; "Are we always the best examples we can be in caring for creation?"
  • See the world with its Creator's eyes.
These ideas are just from the first half of Laudato Si -- and I think this last one is key. We have all had the experience of creating something and giving it to someone else in the hope that they will appreciate it. What would it be like to create a world and then watch how human beings are treating it now? If we can imagine the world as our home rather than our playground, and desire only what is best for all living things, we will do things differently, won't we? And that's what God and Pope Francis are calling us to do.

To save this summary from being completely overwhelming, I'll look at the second half next week, and wrap it up, whew! Until then, I will close with the end of the final prayer of Laudato Si. Please pray with me:

God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!

+AMEN.

Next up: The Grand Finale, period

(A Christian prayer in union with creation and all quotations from Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home © Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

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